A Passage to India

by E. M. Forster

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 679

Topic #1
In a 1938 essay, Forster declared, “...if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” Demonstrate the ways in which Fielding’s actions in the novel are consistent with this statement.

I. Thesis Statement: A Passage to India illustrates the paramount value of friendship, even when it conflicts with group loyalty

II. Fielding’s friendship with Aziz must surmount many obstacles
A. The cultural and ethnic gap between them, reinforced by social structures
B. Many acquaintances attempt to undermine the friendship
C. They frequently misunderstand each other

III. Although other Anglo-Indians brand Fielding as a traitor, he sides with Aziz
A. He believes Aziz is innocent
B. He defies his own group to defend Aziz

IV. The friendship between Aziz and Fielding survives rumors and years of separation
A. After they are reunited, Aziz abandons his suspicious attitude
B. Fielding forgives him
C. Their friendship is so strong that it allows for conflict based on their differing group identities
D. Although the time and place will not allow their friendship to flourish, both men acknowledge the strength of their bond

Topic #2
Miss Quested repeatedly says that the mystery of what happened in the caves will never be solved. Some readers believed that Aziz might have been guilty of an assault, or at least a sexual advance, on her. Use the facts presented in the novel, and its narrative technique, to refute this charge.

I. Thesis Statement: A close reading of A Passage to India demonstrates that, whether or not Miss Quested was assaulted in the caves, Aziz was not the perpetrator.

II. Mrs. Moore says that it is not in Aziz’s character to do such a thing
A. Aziz’s idea of hospitality would prevent him from insulting a guest
B. Aziz is too practical and unsentimental about sex to take a risk
C. Miss Quested states that only Mrs. Moore knows the answer

III. It is unlikely because Aziz has other sexual outlets, and finds Miss Quested unattractive
A. He is planning a trip to Calcutta for sexual purposes
B. In a conversation with Fielding, Aziz refers to Miss Quested’s lack of sexual charms

IV. Aziz’s version of the events is more complete and convincing than other versions
A. The narrative follows Aziz at the caves
B. Miss Quested’s experience remains inconclusive
C. Fielding’s attempted reconstruction of the events raises the possibility of an attack by Aziz but does not explore it.

Topic #3
In An Autobiography, the president of India, Jawahlarl Nehru, wrote of the Anglo-Indians, “They lived in a narrow, circumscribed world of their own—Anglo-India—which was neither England nor India.” For his part, Forster once wrote that every Englishman in India felt and behaved as if he were a member of an army of occupation. Use examples from A Passage to India to illustrate these observations.

I. Thesis Statement: Despite their attempts to re-create England in India, the Anglo-Indians behaved like an army of occupation on foreign territory.

II. The Anglo-Indians attempted to recreate England in India
A. The houses were adaptations of English-style bungalows
B. Their social life centered around the English club

III. The Anglo-Indians could not recreate England because they could not do without the Indians
A. The Anglo-Indians were obsessed with the need to keep the Indians under control
B. They maintained superior rank and allowed the Indians to work only as subordinates

IV. Mr. Turton and Major Callendar are examples of a colonial mentality
A. Mr. Turton calls for justice, but regards all Indians as inferiors
B. Major Callendar is openly racist and believes in calling out the army rather than relying on the rule of law

V. Even Fielding, who has taken a different attitude from the other Anglo-Indians, betrays a sense of superiority
A. In a moment of annoyance, he calls Aziz a “little rotter”
B. By the end of the novel, he is convinced that India needs British rule to maintain order and progress

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A Passage to India